December 7, 2007
Late last night, the Senate passed, by a vote of 88–5, a one-year increase in the AMT exemption without the offsetting tax increases in the version that passed the House. The rejected House version would take ten years of small tax increases to pay for a one-year AMT patch, leaving open the question of how to pay for next year's patch, but at least that bill follows the letter of the PAYGO rules. The Senate bill is an outright $50 billion tax cut.
December 4, 2007
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, searching for a way to ease the burgeoning mortgage crisis, is traveling down a dangerous road. He wants to let state and local governments use tax-exempt bonds to refinance some troubled home loans.
November 29, 2007
Interesting to watch the Republican debate last night. Once they got past their arguments about who hired whom with a "funny accent" or who would build a bigger barrier across the Mexican border (Duncan Hunter trumped everyone by promising to build a double fence), the Presidential candidates tackled the "no tax" pledge invented a decade ago by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Their answers were revealing.
November 27, 2007
The Wall Street Journal editorializes ($) admiringly on Fred Thompson's "voluntary flat tax" (or alternative maximum tax to use the tax code's current lingo). Putting aside questions of the desired size of government, cost, feasibility, equity and so forth, I'd like to zero in on the claim that "there would only be five lines on the tax form."
November 27, 2007
adaniller posted some thoughtful comments in response to my November 20 article on Social Security. He argues that while the program's shortfall may be worrisome in the long-run, there is no compelling reason to fix it now. Rather, we should wait, carefully consider the problem, and weigh potential solutions.
November 20, 2007
Candidates for President are talking about Social Security. Despite the knee-jerk reaction of the Democratic Left, this is a very good thing.
November 15, 2007
The IRS is talking about making taxpayer information available online. I am terrified. According to the Don't Mess With Taxes blog, the director of the agency's Office of Electronic Tax Administration, David R. Williams, says that up to three years of returns may be made available to taxpayers as soon as next summer. This is the Service's attempt to be customer-friendly in a 21st century sort of way. And, to some, it may seem like a great convenience. But….
November 13, 2007
In an important new report, the Congressional Budget Office presents a troubling estimate of long-term growth in health care spending. If the projections are even close to correct, they will have a profound impact on tax and budget policy for the foreseeable future. "This is the central long-term fiscal challenge facing the U.S.," says CBO director Peter Orszag.
November 8, 2007
Bloggers have had a field day ridiculing a year-old decision by the Iowa Department of Revenue that would subject certain pumpkins to state sales taxes. True, the decision was worthy of a Halloween chuckle, but the gigglers are missing the point.
November 6, 2007
An awful lot of Democrats suddenly seem to think that senior citizens are overtaxed. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama wants to exempt seniors making less than $50,000 from paying any federal income tax. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has tucked a new $700 above-the-line deduction for real estate taxes into his proposal to extend Alternative Minimum Tax relief for another year. While Rangel doesn’t say so, seniors who have paid off their mortgages and no longer itemize would be big beneficiaries of the new tax break.